As the storm clouds roll by and a light evening rain sets in, we make our way to The Brightside to see Long Island’s finest, Bayside, on their first ever headline tour of Australia. Why it took the band sixteen years to pull their finger out and do their own headline tour, we don’t exactly know, however, it’s nice to see that the inclement weather hasn’t deterred an early turnout, and there’s already a small throng of revelers huddled in the beer garden. After necking a pint of Young Henrys that just barely touches the sides, we set up shop on the stairs inside as the band’s gear up.
The first of the four-band line-up are the pop-punk locals Arrivals, who act out their namesake and attempt to warm up the early punters. However, it’s off to a shaky start when the band begins their set with a cover of Story Of The Year’s ‘And The Hero Will Drown’ (which to be fair, is a damned good song). But this was not a mid-set cover nor the set closer and there are bemused looks across the faces of the crowd – torn between crippling nostalgia, contemplating why the band would choose to open with this cover, or even just a cover song at all. This appears to parallel the fearful hesitancy with which the band delivers their own set: standing still, with blank expressions and their backs to the thin crowd. New tracks like ‘Memories’ are hopeful at best but ultimately suffer from a general lack of energy and enthusiasm. Their pop-punk meets melodic hardcore tunes fail to rise to the occasion that a live show demands, and it’s slightly awkward watching a band that just feels so unleavened.
Put it back in the oven boys, you’re not done yet.
After punching some tinnies in the beer garden and enjoying the light drizzle, we remember why we’re here in the first place and go catch Far Away Stables when they’re already a few songs deep, bathed in a haze of smoke and glowing lights. If the first band opening with a cover is a bad omen, then having the second band on the bill using in-ear monitors is a definite sign that shit has indeed leveled up. In almost direct contrast to the half-baked act that preceded them, these Sydney-siders are incredibly tight and polished, with an alternative rock style in the vein of Hands Like Houses, Saosin, and Circa Survive that really grabs the attention of the room. Pulling largely from their ‘Atlantis’ release, tracks like ‘Understanding The Depths’ and single ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ are grand in scope, and the band passionately works the stage to full effect.
At one point, vocalist Brendan Sheargold holds a megaphone up to the mic to emphasize a pleaded lyric, and the plethora of band photographers in attendance materialize out of thin air to snap the iconic shot (see below). Guitarist Mitchell Grace makes some sultry, post-ejaculate faces mid-riff, stroking his guitar like a bodily organ, while drummer Cam Bury works his kit like a pro, even throwing in some cheeky stick spins. It’s also clear that Sheargold is a very talented vocalist and has one set of wild pipes, as he switches effortlessly between a delicate croon and a high scream to balance out the band’s quiet/loud dynamic.
It’s impressive stuff from a band that is surely destined for bigger things.
The lights go dim when Young Lions take to the stage, and the room seems to buzz with an anxious energy. Vocalist
Vocalist Zachary Britt was absent for the first half of the Bayside tour, with Will Jarratt from Storm The Sky filling in for the band’s support run (a more than solid fill-in, to be sure). But with Britt back on the mic, The Brightside is lucky to have Young Lions here in full tonight and the band see fit to put on one hell of a show. With an even spread of bangers from 2013’s ‘Burn’ and last year’s excellent ‘Blue Isla’ album, the Brissy boys launch into a catchy and fervent set of heart-on-sleeve, alternative rock for an excited hometown crowd to lap up. There’s common ground on display similar to fellow Aussie rockers The Getaway Plan, but when the massive chorus of ‘When Will We Be Free?’ hits, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d accidentally stumbled into a 30 Seconds To Mars stadium show.
Well, that is until Britt crazily jumps around the room, dancing with punters, getting in their faces and serenading them with his warm vocals. For most of their well-oiled, intimate and reasonably sweaty set, Britt spends more time on the floor than he does on stage, graciously hugging it out with fans in the center of the pit without skipping a beat in his vocal delivery. It’s a stellar performance and easy to see why they were perhaps the perfect choice to pair with the main event’s first headline tour Down Under. Speaking of…
With the venue comfortably full, New Yorkers Bayside make a quick entrance with little fanfare and get straight down to business: rocking the fuck out.
It’s obvious that they’re stoked to be here, with vocalist/rhythm guitarist Anthony Ranieri and bassist Nick Ghanbarian grinning like devils as they rip into the knockout punch of ‘Sick, Sick, Sick.’ New tracks like ‘I’ve Been Dead All Day’ from the band’s most recent record ‘Vacancy’ get a feature, as drummer Chris Guglielmo keeps a fierce tempo behind the kit and makes sly faces with Ghanbarian. Lead guitarist Jack O’Shea – adorned with a wrist sweat guard and a ‘…And Justice For All’ t-shirt – lends his talents to those trademark Bayside mid-section solos, bringing the heat on the fretboard as he knocks back shot after shot between songs with their crew and guitar tech side of stage.
Midway through their set, Ranieri stops to thank the crowd for coming out and remarks that tonight is the most enjoyable show of the tour. Give yourself a pat on the back Brisbane. When he remarks that the band wasn’t sure what Bayside records were available in Australia and that in turn made them unsure what songs to play in a 45-minute headline set, we wonder if Ranieri thinks Australia doesn’t have the Internet yet…
This aside, it’s a definite win-win for Bayside fans tonight, as the band’s set is pretty much a greatest hits collection from across their entire discography, with a heavy focus on 2007’s ‘The Walking Wounded’. Bona-fide anthems like ‘They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns’, ‘Duality’ and ‘Dear Your Holiness’ get the crowd worked up with a heavy call-and-response, alongside newer gems like ‘Pigsty’, ‘Mary’ and older tracks like ‘Devotion and Desire’ and ‘Masterpiece’.
Towards the end, Ranieri & co. drop into a surprise cover of ‘Mr. Brightside’ by The Killers, which goes down rather well with the band’s rockier instrumentation and seems very fitting given the choice of venue for this evening. As their set draws to a close, the band are thankful and humble for tonight’s reception and wrap up with ‘Carry On’ and the title track off ‘The Walking Wounded’, which gets a huge chant from the audience for the chorus refrain: “Scientists, they couldn’t fix me. I’m so tired of getting out of bed.”
Considering the good vibes tonight (and the amount of beers that were consumed), it’s a fitting and prophetic send-off for Bayside’s first ever headline tour.